When the lockdown forced us to close our doors at Lifelab, we were midway through an exciting year of research and projects all aimed at supporting young people in making healthy lifestyle choices. One of those projects was delivering the Royal Society for Public Health’s Young Health Champions (YHC) qualification with a group of students from Thornden School. The YHC qualification, developed by RSPH, trains young people up to become ambassadors for healthy lifestyle choices.

Along with increasing their own understanding of why good health matters, the students are trained to become effective ambassadors in their own communities, with skills to signpost their peers to further support if needed. LifeLab is an accredited centre to deliver the Level 2 qualification and last year was awarded the ‘Centre of Excellence’ Hygeia award by RSPH in recognition for the quality of our work.

The group of Year 9 students had completed three of the four units for the qualification, when the restrictions were imposed.  After reviewing the syllabus, LifeLab educators came up with a plan to enable the students to complete the qualification online.

LifeLab lead for YHC, Lisa Bagust explains:

“Despite not being able to work with the students at LifeLab we have been looking at how our work can continue by keeping in touch in other ways. Having reviewed the final unit the students needed to complete we felt we could provide the right support in order to deliver it online and so have set up virtual meetings to enable that.”

“The students’ final task is to deliver a health campaign in their own communities which ordinarily would be delivered in school, so they will have to adapt their campaigns to be able to be delivered online and also to consider how best to reach their peers.”

“Those campaigns could be on topics like physical and mental health, sleep patterns and social media use; all really relevant issues for young people in the current time. We’re excited to see what they come up with.”

The group held their first online meeting this week and are now working on the challenge of creating their health campaigns online. They will be considering how they can deliver their campaign outside of school using other platforms than face to face contact with their peers at school.

Student Ewan, 14, said he was pleased to have been able to complete the qualification.

“It would have been a shame if the work we had put in didn’t count for anything so I am pleased we get to finish it off. I have really enjoyed doing the course because I have learnt much more about why health matters and I think it is important to try and help other people who might need support.”